On a recent flight to a holiday destination, I was fortunate to be on a newer plane with many of the latest enhancements to passenger comfort and entertainment. For example, I had my own personal communications screen that provided my choice of movies, network shows, new streaming programs (Netflix) and a host of other possible viewing selections. While having a screen in the head rest was nothing new, having that many personal choices was something that I hadn’t seen before. And if that wasn’t enough, I could get Wi-Fi and choose from my personal inventory of entertainment and data options.
As I stretched my legs and walked through the cabin, I noticed how many different channels were being watched. In fact, I didn’t see any two people on the same program. This made me think of how times and the way we communicate with people have changed and how personal it has become.
Staying on board the airplane theme, recall how airlines used to entertain us. Screens dropped down from the center and everybody watched the same film. You laughed together, cried together, and everybody was plugged into the same message. Then airlines offered a choice of three or four movies and eventually things evolved to where they are today. The parallel to the communications business is eerily similar — from when networks offered three or four choices to how that has quickly transitioned to cable, digital and streaming broadcasts offering hundreds of choices.
As marketing and branding professionals, trying to reach targeted consumers has become hit and miss. Fortunately, technology has kept pace and created many new options for consumers to tap into branding messages, on their own very personal terms.
No longer is it a question of reach and frequency with regards to reaching consumers, it has become a strategy of timing, tools and technologies. CRM programs, digital media, “on demand” consumer strategies and other personalized approaches are all driving how we interact with customers. And remember, it’s not our choice – it’s theirs – all we can do is understand their preferences and behaviors and then serve up our messages when they are in the mood to receive them. And, make them engaging enough that they’ll want to stay and listen to what we have to say!
Just like media has changed, messaging must change with it. Marketers can’t afford to put all their messaging eggs in one basket – different messages should be created to meet the very specific personalities of different target groups. Again, the more you know about your audience, the more precise you’ll be with your targeting and messaging.
As I get ready to board another plane, I look forward to a very short trip. After all, I’ll be connected to Wi-Fi, tuned into my favorite programs, able to use mobile technology and listening to my favorite music. As I travel 500 miles per hour, I’ll wonder which of today’s brands are able to keep up with me.